What are your pet peeves about common typefaces?

mwebert's picture

OK, yesterday I rejected Freight Sans for a project. It's simply beautiful, but I believe its narrow word spaces hinder legibility, especially in comparison with other humanist sans faces.

This morning I briefly considered using TheSans, until I got a look at that uppercase "Q" with its disconnected tilde for a tail. Please, Lucas! I absolutely love TheSans, but no alternate for that Q?!!

So it got me thinking... What common typefaces are "spoiled" for you by their quirks? And what makes these features deal-breakers?

Thanks in advance,
--Michael.

mili's picture

Chris, I believe the font is like that. It repeats in all such headlines in several issues of the magazine, and there are only Äs Ös and perhaps Ås, as it's a Finnish magazine. It would be too much trouble to do it by hand, I guess.

dezcom's picture

Thanks, Mili. Those short letters just look so apologetic compared to their full-sized neighbors. Kind of like Ben Stein standing next to Shaq in all those commercials :-)

bigbill's picture

"Evolution" of Swedish tabloids!


Aftonbladet, 1953.
"fYllde kyrkan" Great solution!
"ÖSTERMALM" is looking rather nice (seriously).

-


Aftonbladet, 197X? Huge dots.

-


Aftonbladet,1994

-


Aftonbladet, 2009.
Needs to be set tighter.

Nick Shinn's picture

I'm still not seeing any with accents reversed out of the glyph.
Surely someone has given it a try?

eliason's picture

I'd guess /Ä/s (and /Ö/s?) would look too much like faces that way.

Nick Shinn's picture

As opposed to Mickey Mouse?

Elias's picture

I don't have a huge problem with the merged Å, and I honestly don't understand how merging the ring and the A makes it less a letter in its own right than taking an A and placing a ring accent above it. But maybe that's just me being Danish. For the record, I know a few people who despise the å and insist on the old spelling, aa.

To me, it's a lot more repelling when lowercase æ looks like a clash between a and e (example: Bembo), instead of being drawn as one, unified letter.

Igor Freiberger's picture

Well, I have a handful of pet peeves:

01. Kerning too loose for digit 1 in Minion.
02. Oldstyle 0 is almost a circle in many Galarde and Venetian typefaces.
03. Oldstyle numbers too much out of x-height in some serif fonts.
04. Small caps with the same height than lowercases in many serif fonts.
05. Absence of small caps in Utopia italic and Cartier Book italic.
06. Absence of small caps in the whole Myriad family.
07. Absence of small caps and alternate numbers in Iowan OldStyle.
08. Position and size of acute and grave accents over lc in Meta Serif.
09. Lowercase m is much condensed in Meta Serif.
10. Lack of a light style for Tisa.
11. Terminals very big in a, 2 and 3 in Greta Serif.
12. Lining 5 in Arno and Sabon.
13. Uppercase U in Bembo.
14. Dollar in ITC Caslon.
15. Question mark in Futura.

Igor Freiberger's picture

Sorry, I did mean the absence of small caps as an OT feature.

Now I see there is an Iowan Pro version which must have proper small caps inside the fonts. But strangely its information is incomplete both in MyFonts and in FontShop. Tries to show smcp/c2sp preview always return errors and the character set does not shows small caps (http://www.fontshop.com/fonts/singles/bitstream/iowan_old_style_bt_pro_r...).

Does anybody know if Iowan Pro has small caps and old style figures as an OT feature? Is this available for the whole family?

Nick Shinn's picture

Thanks Nina, that's what I suspected.
Perhaps some of the present wave of ultra-blacks also have such a feature.

j_p_giese's picture

Regarding Freight in it's Sans and Text variants: I, inter alios, have to say that they're pretty much unusable for German. The esteemed Mr. Darden decided to not design an ß for them, but to prove instead that he knows about its ancestry, the Antiqua's ſs ligature (an assumedly younger, but still century-old variant of the Textura's and the Fraktur's ſʒ ligature which gave the ß one of its names, the Eszett). No modern ß is provided as an alternate glyph.

The other Freight family members (Big, Display, Micro) do have an ß, but for some curious reason, Micro's ß changes into ſs in its italic, so Micro falls into the unusable-for-German-unless-you-don't-plan-on-using-the-italic category.


Freight has been a little overfreighted with
well-meant typographical fanciness

This inconsistency alone would make the Freight family an iffy choice for German, even if the ſs ligature wasn't completely out of use. While the elderly or typographically educated may recognize the ſs as ß (and yet trip over each instance), the rest will just wonder Whatthefont this is (and/or read it as fs).

I've heard the ß being referred to as an ſs ligature, but it's more precisely a single letter that evolved from the ſs ligature. Freight illustrates the point.

hrant's picture

A good example of the danger in historical pedantism.

hhp

R.'s picture

For the record: The Pro versions of Freight Sans and Freight Text contain what you would probably consider to be a decent ‘ß’ glyph.

j_p_giese's picture

Hey R., thanks for the setting the record straight. I never got aware of the Pro versions after I had to axe Freight from my list years ago because of the Eszett issue. Before I wrote the above post, I did visit dardenstudio.com, but no mention of a Pro version of Freight catched my eye (there's is Omnes Pro), so I didn't go over the character set on the site. It seems that Freight Pro is now the only Freight there is (Phil's Fonts, though, who sell the font licenses, list the fonts expressly as Freight Pro). Anyway, good to know there now is a perfectly fine Eszett in Freight Text and Sans (and also in Micro Italic).

PS: Hmm. When I set a sample on dardenstudio.com, the Eszett situation is the same as I described in my yesterday's post, except that Freight Display shows an fl (sic) ligature instead of an Eszett. Wait a second ... most of the accents or umlauts that I'm trying with any of the fonts are more or less messed up ... looks like the font sampler thingy is to blame. Oh well, as long as the actual fonts work.

nina's picture

"an fl (sic) ligature instead of an Eszett"
That seems to be a not-entirely-uncommon encoding (?) issue (see this find).

Speaking of eszetts, to many Germans Dolly has a serious German-usability issue too, because its eszett is too short (it should really reach the height of the other ascenders). I myself have only ever been able to use it in Swiss contexts, where no eszett was needed.

hrant's picture

I can see a good reason to make it short (it's heavier
than anything else up top) but that's way too short.

hhp

nina's picture

Yes, it's tempting – I've been there too. But that there just looks wrong.

Nick Shinn's picture

It does appear to be intentional.
At first I thought it was a mistake -- matching the eszett to cap height, rather than ascenders.
But the descender is also a lot shorter than other descenders.
Perhaps if it had been designed by a German it would be more acceptable :-)

hrant's picture

You don't have to be German, you just have to listen.

hhp

Nick Shinn's picture

It looks odd within the context of the typeface, not the language.
The Souvenir "g", for instance, is odd, but not in an English-usability manner, because of glyphs like "y" which are similarly strange.

So in the case of Dolly, it is not a German-usability issue, other than the problem character only appearing in German text, because the glyph is clearly recognizable as eszett (unlike the Freight glyph mentioned earlier).
And the eszett character is one that adopts many different forms in the antiqua genre, so German readers shouldn't be fazed by a non-standard appearance.

**

I always found the f and t crossbar of Palatino and Laudatio to be unusually low.
Is that related to any German calligraphic traditions, or did I just make that assumption because I know the designers are skilled calligraphers who incidentally hail from Germany?

nina's picture

"it is not a German-usability issue, other than the problem character only appearing in German text"
?
What I meant is: I know a number of Germans (it's not just me) who say Dolly is essentially not usable for German-language text, because the eszett glyph does not work. And when I say does not work, I mean makes readers stumble. Sure it's recognizable when you stare at it, but it sticks out when reading, it seems «wrong».
There is such a thing as dysfunctional glyph design.

"And the eszett character is one that adopts many different forms in the antiqua genre, so German readers shouldn't be fazed by a non-standard appearance"
Well that's really a little too easy.
Lowercase "g"s can adopt a number of different forms too, but that doesn't give you a wild card to do any odd thing you like, especially not if you expect people to actually read it.

hrant's picture

> the glyph is clearly recognizable as eszett

That's not a display face designer talking.

> German readers shouldn't be fazed by a non-standard appearance.

That's not a text face designer talking.

hhp

Florian Hardwig's picture

What I meant is: I know a number of Germans (it's not just me) who say Dolly is essentially not usable for German-language text, because the eszett glyph does not work.

Count me in.

piccic's picture

I think most people started mixing questions of actual problems in usability and simple taste preferences or dislikes. This does not make sense.
The [Q] of Bookman is perfectly fine. The [Q] in Scala may present problems of immediate recognizability, since it‘s too detached.
But as Hrant said, its style should be preserved.

Nick Shinn's picture

The serifed capital I in Verdana.
I can understand its use in small pixel text, to disambiguate I from l and 1, but in all other uses, it looks like a "wrong font" letter.
Especially in all-cap settings, e.g.

Stephen Coles's picture

How about the cap "I" in Bell Gothic?

Nick Shinn's picture

And Griffith Gothic?
I don't mind that so much, because there are other strangenesses.
(That's why I didn't mind including a serifed "I" in a couple of my sans designs.)
But everything else in Verdana is so orthodox, notwithstanding the occasionally J/j, that the "I" really stands out.

VanEngine's picture

Yes! The open bowl in the P of Stone Sans is why I hate using it.
Openings in 2-story lowercase g's bug me too.

hrant's picture

Many designers have become used to the conventional closed-botton binocular "g", and they assume that what jumps out at a designer at display sizes is the same thing as what harms readability among layman at text sides. I don't think those are the same at all, and I believe the open-bottom bino form is more natural to reading. It's just harder to make well because good precedents are so rare.

hhp

dberlow's picture

Nick: "...everything else in Verdana is so orthodox..."

There is a stylistic alt I and small cap alt I in Verdana Pro, though not labeled "orthodox."

dezcom's picture

>>though not labeled "orthodox."

perhaps "reform", then?

brianskywalker's picture

> I don't think those are the same at all, and I believe the open-bottom bino form is more natural to reading.

I'm not sure it's more natural or not. But I have seen it done very well with a very natural feeling. It's certainly more natural in certain cases.

dezcom's picture

As with all things, the proof is in the pudding.

hrant's picture

I believe it's more natural because the closed form is topologically too alien. The open form harmonizes with other forms better (like the "s").

hhp

Renaissance Man's picture

Proof is never in the pudding. The proof of the pudding is in the tasting.

John Hudson's picture

You know, I've never-ever-not-even-once had any difficulty reading a letter g with a closed lower loop, nor found any open looped g easier to read. Some of the latter I've certainly found distracting because, ironically, they are topologically alien to most of what I've spent my life reading.

Why not, for that matter, declare the s to be the topologically alien one? It's terminals seldom correspond to those of the lowercase c, with which one would expect it to share such features. Or maybe its the c that it topologically alien. Or maybe its that none of these things have any measurable impact on reading.

dezcom's picture

"I believe the open-bottom bino form is more natural to reading."

Perhaps this is simply your own particular take on the issue. I have never heard of this from any other source. Do you have any data?

hrant's picture

Measurable? Data? Sorry guys, I forgot I was on soilmechanicsophile.com...

hhp

dberlow's picture

n, o, and x I'd keep. The rest are just trouble. I mean, all the rest of Unicode.

No... Wait, 0 and 1 are okay too. I'd keep o, n, x, 0 and 1.
And caps, i used to think H is okay too, except that crossbar is totally ridiculous and has less than nothing to do with the O,o,n,x,0 or 1. But I guess if I think 0 and 0 are okay, O is too. Dotless i too.

And cap I in, but just in sans. The rest just don't make any sense. Then in serif fonts, just the o and x. The rest are too knarly to design and we should just stack and mix o and x to make the other letters.

No one would hate any fonts then and it'd probably not have any measurable effect on reading for most people as long as the pictures are still there?

brianskywalker's picture

I think that's his way of saying that he likes the open-bottomed |g|.

hrant's picture

Actually David has previously said he much prefers the closed one, and I doubt he would change his mind. But I hope I'm wrong.

John: I will make time to properly address your points. It's complicated.

hhp

dberlow's picture

My primary recollection of what I've said previously on the "some-stencil" issue is that I prefer the bowl to be closed when I make a P. I love a good Baskerville as much as the next good shepherd and no blanket should be laid over the issue of topology until one is dead, I think.

Little white spaces in metal type "scaled" exactly the way the type designer wanted them too, (at a different rate than big white spaces), and thus are resolved for the user. Little white spaces in digital type (for most users), scale out of the type designer's control, making some-stencil a non-trivial issue to resolve. If a type is only for display, it matters less, stencil away, drive a Ford over it, use XP.

But I don't think some-stencil g's are rare because they're harder to make, so much as they are harder to use well. That little inlet at the bottom should NOT sparkle. Stencils broaden at small sizes to appear as a white counterpoint to, e.g. a serif... narrow as the size increases to remain well integrated to the eye.

The harder that is made by technology, the fewer of these, Didots, grass scripts and other extremely humanistic typographic elements we'll see in a culture going fast forward, I think. But rejoice, we have a full alternate explanation of the g-ness of the species coming soon.

hrant's picture

More soon (gotta finish writing my Granshan talk description first), but for now: http://typophile.com/node/19013?page=1
David's second and third posts there are what I was remembering.

hhp

dezcom's picture

David bowled me over, double, he is a g-ness when it comes to turning a phrase.

eliason's picture

David bowled me over, double, he is a g-ness

Though don't you think some of these recent posts get a little loopy?

dezcom's picture

"...recent posts get a little loopy?

Just our way of joining in ;-P

Florian Hardwig's picture

FYI: Underware’s recent library upgrade brought a new eszett for Dolly, among other things.
http://www.underware.nl/blog/2013/06/behind-the-font-upgrade/

hrant's picture

It's great when a foundry listens to criticism.

hhp

Syndicate content Syndicate content